Commonly known as a “tummy tuck”, abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the lower and middle abdomen, and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. For most patients, the procedure can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen, and improve your overall appearance and self-confidence.
Are You a Candidate for Tummy Tuck?
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but have a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin around their abdominal area that has not responded to traditional diet or exercise. In particular, women who have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal naturally, due to multiple pregnancies (see mommy makeover), find the procedure very helpful. Individuals who have experienced massive weight loss (see post weight reduction surgery) may also be great candidates for this procedure. In addition, older patients experiencing the loss of skin elasticity, which often occurs with minor obesity, can also be improved.
About the Procedure
In most cases, Dr. Harris will make two major incisions: one long incision from hipbone to hipbone just above your pubic area, and a second incision to free your navel from surrounding tissue.
The skin is separated from the abdominal wall up to the ribs revealing the vertical muscles in your abdomen. These muscles are then tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position resulting in a firmer abdominal wall and narrower waistline.
The excess skin is then stretched back down and removed. A new hole is cut for your navel and stitched into place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, surgical dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site if necessary.
An abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthetic. The surgery normally takes between two to five hours depending on the extent of the surgery. The surgery is normally performed on an outpatient basis, but in some circumstances, an overnight hospital stay may be required.
What to Expect After Your Surgery
In the first few days following your procedure, your abdomen will be swollen and you will probably experience some pain and discomfort, which can be controlled with proper medication. In most cases, you will be released within a few hours. In certain cases, or you may have to remain hospitalized for two to three days depending on the extent of your surgery.
Dr.Harris will provide you with instructions for showering and changing your dressings. Though you may not be comfortable standing upright at first, it is important that you start walking as soon as possible to prevent blood clots.
The surface stitches don’t have to be removed following your procedure as we use a subdermal method. The navel sutures will be removed in two to three weeks. The dressing on your incision may be replaced by a support garment that you will have to wear for 4 weeks.
Tummy Tuck Recovery
The stronger your abdominal muscles, the faster you can expect your recovery period to progress. Most people return to work after two weeks, while others take three or four weeks to rest and recuperate.
Exercise will help you heal faster, though vigorous exercise should be avoided until it can be performed comfortably and safely.
As with any cosmetic procedure, there will be some scarring. These scars can be quite lengthy and take many months or even years to heal. You should expect the scars to be red, raised, lumpy and even itchy to begin with. They should fade and flatten with time as this is part of the healing process. Please keep in mind that this may take one to two years for the healing process to complete. To expedite and facilitate this process, daily massaging of the scars during this period will be advised. While your scars will never completely disappear, most scars resulting from abdominoplasty will not show under most clothing, even under most bathing suits. We recommend the use of Mederma and Silicon patches to decrease the appearance of the scar.
Individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions, and their healing abilities, and the outcome is never completely predictable. As with any surgical procedure, the risk of infection is always a possibility, especially if you smoke or do not take the antibiotic as prescribed. This can be minimized by the preventative administration of antibiotics both at the time of your surgery and afterwards while in recovery. However, on occasion, mild infection can occur and is relatively common, although it usually subsides after two weeks.
Early mobilization by moving around following your surgery can reduce the risks of blood clots.